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Thursday, December 01, 2005 

Pentagon paying for articles in Iraqi media.

I'm surprised that this hasn't been exposed sooner:

Faced with suicide bombings, claims of Iraqi death squads, and kidnappings, the Pentagon has come up with an innovative solution to solving the problems in Iraq: buying good news. Using defence contractors or intermediaries posing as freelance reporters, the military has been paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by a military propaganda unit lauding the US mission.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the articles are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers where they are often presented as unbiased accounts by independent journalists. Records obtained by the newspaper indicate the US has paid to publish dozens of articles since the operation began this year, with headlines such as "Iraqis insist on living despite terrorism" and "more money goes to Iraq's development".

One military official told the LA Times the military has also bought an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station, both used to channel pro-American messages. The propaganda offensive is said to have caused unease among some senior military officials at the Pentagon and in Iraq, especially when the US is promising to promote democratic principles.

Well, I suppose this is the lighter option to bombing al-Jazeera. With Baghdad now quite possibly the most dangerous place on the planet though, is their money actually doing any good? Following the revelations over prisoner abuse by the majority Shia over Sunni prisoners, the mood has turned even more downcast. Reports suggesting that the Kurds have independently struck a deal with the Norwegians over oil-drilling are unlikely to help matters. While many doom-sayers have for months now been saying that civil war is if not already underway, then just around the corner, the signs on the ground are that it is still not likely.

I can't really tell what the US wants in Iraq anymore. Their plans for staying until "victory is complete" runs with their wanting to maintain numerous bases in Iraq. However, the emergence of the Shia as such a political force was certainly not what was wanted, especially as problems over Iran intensify. It seems increasingly likely that Iraq is going to split, whether down to civil war or not. With the Sunnis left with only the desert Anbar province, you can bet that the Sunni-led insurgency will carry on for years to come. Also expect the US to justify permanently staying because the Anbar province will be used by "terrorists" for planning attacks on America. If the above happens, it could really be the most disastrous war for America since Vietnam.

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